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Syracuse Football: Not A Rivalry, Not Now Anyway

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports






Maryland and Syracuse: proximity a rivalry did not make.

I'm not sure Vegas could even come up with a reasonable over/under for how many times Syracuse's game with Maryland will be classified as some form of "rivalry." It'll be in print, Online and said way too much to even hazard a guess, I'd imagine. Most people just assume SU and UM have some notable history together.

And they're wrong.

(Save for, of course, the '85 Cherry Bowl II: The Cherrying.)

The Terrapins and Orange men aren't rivals. Hell, the two aren't even acquaintances. The six scheduled games featuring the two teams in the '80s felt like something evolving before it was shot dead. And prior to last season's game in College Park, Syracuse and Maryland went nearly 20 years without playing.

All games
2013/11/09  Syracuse   20  -  Maryland    3 W                      
1994/11/19  Syracuse   21  -  Maryland   16 W                      
1991/09/14  Syracuse   31  -  Maryland   17 W                      
1988/10/01  Syracuse   20  -  Maryland    9 W                      
1987/09/05  Syracuse   25  -  Maryland   11 W                      
1985/12/21  Syracuse   18  -  Maryland   35 L    !! Cherry Bowl !! 
1984/09/08  Syracuse   23  -  Maryland    7 W                      
1983/10/08  Syracuse   13  -  Maryland   34 L                      
1982/10/02  Syracuse    3  -  Maryland   26 L                      
1981/10/03  Syracuse   17  -  Maryland   17 T                      
1978/10/14  Syracuse    9  -  Maryland   24 L                      
1977/10/08  Syracuse   10  -  Maryland   24 L                      
1976/09/25  Syracuse   28  -  Maryland   42 L                      
1975/10/04  Syracuse    7  -  Maryland   24 L                      
1974/10/05  Syracuse    0  -  Maryland   31 L                      
1973/10/06  Syracuse    0  -  Maryland   38 L                      
1972/09/30  Syracuse   16  -  Maryland   12 W                      
1971/10/09  Syracuse   21  -  Maryland   13 W                      
1970/10/10  Syracuse   23  -  Maryland    7 W                      
1969/10/11  Syracuse   20  -  Maryland    9 W                      
1968/09/28  Syracuse   32  -  Maryland   14 W                      
1967/10/07  Syracuse    7  -  Maryland    3 W                      
1966/10/01  Syracuse   28  -  Maryland    7 W                      
1965/10/02  Syracuse   24  -  Maryland    7 W                      
1961/10/07  Syracuse   21  -  Maryland   22 L                      
1959/10/03  Syracuse   29  -  Maryland    0 W                      
1956/09/22  Syracuse   26  -  Maryland   12 W                      
1955/10/22  Syracuse   13  -  Maryland   34 L                      
1939/11/30  Syracuse   10  -  Maryland    7 W                      
1938/10/08  Syracuse   53  -  Maryland    0 W                      
1937/10/23  Syracuse    0  -  Maryland   13 L                      
1936/10/24  Syracuse    0  -  Maryland   20 L                      
1935/11/28  Syracuse    0  -  Maryland    0 T                      
1921/10/08  Syracuse   42  -  Maryland    0 W                      
1920/11/13  Syracuse    7  -  Maryland   10 L    

The strange part about all of that up there? The average score in the "series" happens to be, Syracuse 17.6 Maryland 15.7. Sounds close! But looking at the scores, you can tell that's skewed by some blowouts and a few too many shutouts. In reality, only eight times in 35 games has a final score been within a touchdown or less (just once since '82). Not exactly the most competitive of contests.

And even still, with no real concrete facts behind them, people will casually call Syracuse vs. Maryland a rivalry game. "Syracuse faces an old rival in Maryland at the dome this weekend." "Maryland on the road at rival Syracuse on Saturday." Blah blah blah. It's not so much this game in particular that seems to get my goat, but it's the concept of "rivalry" being thrown about so frequently that bothers me.

If playing a game against another team three times in twenty years is a rivalry then what the hell is Ohio State vs. Michigan?

But here we sit, days from the Terps and the Orange kicking off at the dome. Moments away from someone mentioning the "R" word about the game.

And, getting over my hatred of that overused description, I have a bigger lingering issue here: Why don't Syracuse and Maryland just play more often starting now? Screw branding, it does make sense, right? We've all heard that the "power five" conferences want to schedule more games with each other, and we know Syracuse hasn't backed off playing big names over the years. And how about the fans? Sick of seeing "home" games in Jersey? I doubt Maryland would command that type of rider.

Back in September of 2011, when Syracuse's lifeboat was safely paddling toward ACCland and away from the sinking S.S. Big East, some of us figured a regular date with Maryland would be in the offing. Obviously, the Big Ten, in its endless pursuit of mediocre football, had different plans. But there's no reason that, after 2019 back in College Park, the two teams can't schedule more games against each other. I would think there's more buzz behind the Terps for Orange fans than, say, the Bulls of South Florida, right? (Syracuse just scheduled a home-and-home series with USF starting next season.)

The fact that it's now, again, a non-conference game gives it a little more juice even. Like it's not just an amalgamation of conference realignment, but rather could be a creation of genuine intrigue. And since it'll likely already be called a rivalry anyway, the two might as well play as often as possible -- attempting to live up to perception.




Syracuse Football: When Is A Season Defined?

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports



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At Central Michigan has become something of a must-win game for Syracuse. At least, I think it has become something of a must-win game for Syracuse.

Would you believe the team that struggled with Villanova, at home, is favored by a touchdown and an extra point in its next game? A road game nonetheless!

Well, there are some people out there who seem pretty comfortable with SyracuseOrange football right now.

Syracuse at Central Michigan - Sat, Sep 13, 12:00 PM ET (128)
SYR: -110
CMU: -110
SYR: -110
CMU: -110
SYR: -110
CMU: -110

The Orange giving seven to a Chippewas team that has won both games to start 2014, including a victory at Purdue? I'm not entirely sold on that line, at least not right now.

Okay, so CMU is undefeated but it barely beat Tennessee Chattanooga at home and it rolled a really bad Boilermakers team. Are the Chippewas a byproduct of a relatively light early-season slate or is Syracuse in some kind of trouble here? Just the same, is Syracuse as bad as it looked in game one against the Wildcats or will Terrel Hunt's return, and a week off, show what the Orange can do?

I guess those answers will become clearer Saturday afternoon in Mount Pleasant. But, for the Orange's sake, a loss could really be derailing to the season. A kind of "reshuffling of the cards" situation when taking into account everything. Because not only would that mean Syracuse would lose a "winnable" game, but it would probably turn other future "winnable" games into something else.


I mean, Notre Dame looks like a top-25 team right now, even with some players suspended due to an academic investigation. How about Louisville and even Duke? I'm on record that Syracuse's struggles against Villanova did not change my overall thoughts on the season, but I'm a little surprised by some of the other team's starts to the year. Even if we are only talking about two games here.

Just look at what could be looming ahead for the Orange should SU somehow drop this game. Struggle with Nova, lose at Central Michigan and then prepare for Maryland (2-0), Notre Dame (2-0) and Louisville (2-0)? That's not even taking into account Florida State and Clemson which dot the schedule over the next month, too.

Originally I thought Syracuse's game with Central Michigan was just the standard "trap" game: The Orange on the road after a strange bye week looking a head to a gauntlet featuring teams like the Irish, Cards and Seminoles. But while I still see how and why Syracuse will beat the Chippewas, I do think this game is shifting away from trap and into some other season-defining territory. And right now I wonder if SU is seven points better than anyone given the limited view of the team we've had so far.

Ultimately, though, I guess even if Vegas is off by a few points, it won't change the fact that a win is a win. And victory, apparently, is what is expected by experts and the not-so-experts this weekend. A loss in Michigan, though, would probably shift the odds of winning future games against Syracuse.



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We're back, everyone!

After a little more than two years away, Matt Mc's Sports Fix is rebooting and is ready to bring you coverage of North Country sports. In fact, we are here to be your source for Frontier League sports, Watertown Red and Black and Rams coverage, and, of course, Syracuse Orange discussion.

Also, each morning Fox Sports 1410 will air North Country ScoreCenters: I'll have updates on what happened on the courts and fields locally and a preview for what's on tap tonight.

And then there's the Sports Fix - airing Friday mornings from 7 to 9. We will put a two-hour spotlight on the players, coaches and media that make up North Country sports. Plus, as always, I'll mix in a few opinions and we may even break news every now and again, too. But above all, the Sports Fix is here for you, so let us know your thoughts via email: and Twitter: @matthewmcclusky!

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